I met Christina at Soulshine, an amazing concert and yoga event at Marymoor Park through a mutual friend, Kristen. Immediately I felt her positive and fun energy. Soon after, I asked her to help me with my Ayurveda classes at Rainbow Natural Remedies. She always shows up with a smile, a funny story and a willingness to be of service. Her health and yoga journey is so inspiring, I wanted to feature her on the blog. Welcome, Christina!
Describe yourself and your health/wellness journey.
I recently underwent an extreme health makeover! I worked at an uncomfortable desk job for two years, was not eating well, and avoided establishing a consistent cardio regimen. I traveled to Europe for a few weeks during the spring of 2014, and came back bloated with croissants, over-indulgence and an extra 20 pounds! My “normal” weight most of my life was around 140 lbs and I have always been proud of my muscular physique, but the extra 20 was weighing me down and dimming my natural glow. Luckily, I arrived back in Seattle in a magical time of my life where I could work out and closely watch my food intake. I knew cardio was the only thing that would get me back to a healthy, comfortable weight and size. I joined a high impact group interval training gym called Orange Theory Fitness, cleaned out most of the gluten and sugar from my cabinets, and began my journey with full-on Aries vigor! Up until this point, my main form of exercise had been hot yoga through CorePower Yoga, but my body was changing, and needed more intensity to burn through the toxins I had accumulated in my one and only vessel; my body!
I joined Instagram and began posting my progress, even a few of my beginner photos to show my transformation. I went to an hour long Orange Theory Fitness class followed by an hour long CorePower Yoga class from 4-7 times a week for about 4 months. I was focused and determined to get healthy and feel better about myself. Instagram proved to be an amazing motivational tool, as other athletic, active and like-minded yogi’s, trainers, runners, rowers, TRX’ers and lifters began to follow me and “like” my images, messages and hashtags! I began following gluten-free and clean-eating pages and encouraging others. I not only drooled over the recipes I read about in Yoga Journal, but I actually MADE them! I fell back in love with cooking for myself at home, and even after a long day of teaching and working part time in marketing and administration at the YMCA, I still wanted to cook! I dug up an Ayurvedic cleanse manual from a Fall Detox group cleanse I’d signed up for a few years back, and made some Dal soup, spicy steel cut oats, and root veggie hash! The recipes called for spices with cleansing properties like cardamom, turmeric, cinnamon and ginger. I allowed myself to open up to a new way of thinking about food and regarding food’s purpose.
My issue with eating healthy is I always thought food would get boring if we only eat to sustain our health, but over time I found that there are so many wonderful ways we can nourish ourselves with simple recipes free of processed foods and sugar-filled things. I recognized that I was in fact a sugar addict, and tried to take steps to cut refined sugar out of my diet and replace with summer fruits…but not too much! I started every morning with an emergency packet and a small piece of fruit, would work out, then come home to a nutritious protein shake that I jazzed up with maca powder, frozen bananas and strawberries, ground flax, chia seeds, gogi berries and almond butter! Pretty soon this different way of eating translated into a different way of thinking, regarding others, and presenting myself to the world. I felt myself becoming “nicer” and engaging more closely with others, and feeling like others wanted to be around my energy much more than before! I was putting out good energy, and in return the universe was directing good energy towards me! It became easier to land yoga instruction jobs, graphic design gigs, and I realized that if I focused on a goal enough, I would inevitably manifest that dream! For me, my mindful presence and power unfolded through focusing on my body first.
What lead you to Ayurveda and yoga? Was there an ah-ha moment?
I kept hearing the word “Ayurveda” while practicing yoga at CorePower Yoga in Denver and my sister Maria kept telling me stories about how she opened up an Ayurvedic cookbook and just fell in for a full year. I was constantly told that Ayurveda was the “sister science of yoga” and having an educational background in plant biology, this piqued my interest! I finally signed up for an unconventional winter-time Ayurvedic cleanse with wellness expert, RuthAnn Ritter of Denver, CO. Winter Ayurvedic cleanses are uncommon because the body goes into hibernation mode in the winter, and needs all the fats and nutrients possible, and cleansing tends to flush these things out of our bodies. Summertime is best for cleansing because we are naturally at a higher energy level and can stand to lose some excess toxins.
RuthAnn describes her method as pulling from various sources and developing her own method of winter cleansing using cleansing spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and cumin in dishes like Dal soup. Since this was a winter cleanse, she incorporated warming spices and foods like bananas, oats, nutmeg, and raisins. I had my “ah-ha” moment when I was cooking a batch of dal soup for our weekly “mono-diet” day and realized I was having so much fun! The process of soaking the jasmine rice and muong beans, chopping the carrots and ginger, opening up the cumin and turmeric and breathing in the familiar smells all felt so good. I think it was a primal instinct that came rushing back to me since the last time I became dedicated to cooking my own food at home…which had been quite a while back.
How has Ayurveda and yoga affected your life? And/or what results have you experienced?
Yoga has always been there for me, like a close friend. Anytime life gets hectic and my thoughts begin to spiral out of control, I know it’s time to return to my mat. I’ve always loved the idea that no matter what happens to me, this world, or my location on it, I’ll always have my yoga practice. Ayurveda is like icing on that deliciously fudgy chocolate cake. If we take the time to appreciate the sister science of Ayurveda, and simultaneously maintain a disciplined practice (3-5 times per week or more), everything just comes together.
Once I started to explore Ayurveda I realized that if I ate certain types of food immediately before practicing, it may not be a great day on the mat. When I began adding lemon to my room-temperature water upon waking, my digestion improved. The smallest changes made the biggest impact on my life and well-being, like using a tongue scraper every morning and night and performing self-abhy a few nights a week with lavender or sesame oil.
When life gets busy, what are your core self-care practices?
I maintain my yoga practice by considering it a part of my lifestyle. So when life gets busy, I try not to allow my practice and good habits diminish. Some people may say, “oh that’s nice that you make time to learn how to cook healthy and go to yoga….I wish I had time for that”. Meanwhile, they are consciously over-working themselves and thinking that this is the only way to live life. I do not inherently have time for my self-care practices; I MAKE the time because this is how I maintain my health and positive well-being. My core self-care practices include yoga, aromatherapy through essential oils, a daily dose of cleansing apple cider vinegar, self-abhy and my trusty tongue scraper. I tried oil-pulling but it didn’t stick!
What would you say to someone considering Ayurvedic Health Coaching?
I would tell them to read up on the basics of Ayurveda to make sure it is the direction you want to go in, then seek out a knowledgeable guide like Nicole! Have faith in the process because results don’t happen overnight with traditional healing; you have to put in the effort and make these techniques a part of your everyday rituals. Believe me….the benefits and happiness are worth the short wait!
What’s your favorite recipe? Include a picture if you want.
Tahini Cauliflower! Find the recipe here.
What stress-busting techniques work for you?
When I can’t sleep, I know I’m stressed. When I go to bed with those tapes playing over in my mind on repeat, I put on one of Tara Brach’s 30 minute guided meditations. My favorite is “Coming Home to Loving Kindness”. They can be found on her website here.
Any other comments?
I’m the biggest fan of Nicole Perriella!! (second to her hubby and mom of course)
Where can we find you? Facebook, blog, etc…
FB: Christina Nicole Ciampa
architecture, graphic design and yoga
Christina.firstname.lastname@example.org – available for personal and group yoga practice.